The State Department released its 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, compiling a year's worth of research into modern sex slavery and forced labor conditions around the world. Along with ranking how governments are responding to the crisis, the report shares compelling examples of how human trafficking affects the lives of ordinary individuals.
Speaking in Washington June 20, Secretary of State John Kerry said the report is a call to action to governments and citizens to "uncover modern slavery and hold it accountable, to identify the victims and bring their abusers to justice."
By conservative estimates, at least 20 million people are victims of human trafficking. Some are forced to work as sex slaves, as domestic help, on the streets, and in fishing vessels, farms and other places.
"If the cries of those who are enslaved around the world today were an earthquake, then the tremors would be felt in every single nation on the continent, on every continent, simultaneously," Kerry said.
All countries, including the United States, "need to try harder and do more" to end what he described as perhaps the greatest threat to human dignity and basic freedom.
Responsibility lies not only with governments, but also with ordinary citizens as consumers to ensure that the goods they buy do not come from forced labor. Human trafficking is also interconnected with criminal activity such as narcotics and arms trafficking, and unregulated environmental degradation such as illegal mining and logging, the secretary said.
Modern slavery affects "real people ... whose lives have been abandoned to the most depraved instincts," Kerry said.
NO COUNTRY IS DOING A PERFECT JOB
Speaking to reporters in a June 20 teleconference, State Department Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca said the report ranks 188 countries, including the United States, on a four-tiered system, and that the report shows "no country is doing a perfect job" to end human trafficking.
In ranking the countries, "we're looking at what are they doing for all of the populations that are victimized by trafficking: How are they helping them? Are they prosecuting the perpetrators and bringing them to justice? And are they working to prevent? And when I say 'they,' I mean all of the governments that we look at," he said.
"We are all in this together, because we're seeing people around the world — whether it's in agriculture or whether it's in mining, whether it's in manufacturing, whether it's in the sex industry, whether it's as domestic servants — that when you have unscrupulous and cruel bosses and vulnerable people, you have a recipe for human trafficking," CdeBaca said.